Will We Still Need Sales People?

Last week A Sales Guy community member Rob Sader sent me an email asking my thoughts on the future of sales people and whether or not sales was a dying breed.  You can read his email and the entire post here.

Rob wanted my opinion. I decided to let the community tackle the question first. There were some good thoughts in the comments.

Ultimately, every company needs a Sales person to convince the customer that why their product is better from others. –aravind gogineni

I don’t know anyone who buys millions of dollars of software or hardware without wanting to discuss it in depth with an expert. -Matt Toth

In short, if a company feels like it doesn’t need salespeople then that company either isn’t innovating or doesn’t have high enough goals.  – Brian Manning

If Company A does away with its salesforce, Company B will get a better share of the market just by the virtue of having a salesforce because then the potential clients can be better reached out to and better advised by them. – Sanedevil

My take is similar to many of the comments.  The more complex the sale, the product or the business challenge, the more expensive or great the investment is, the greater the need and DEMAND for sales people will be. Suggesting because there is more information available to buyers on the Internet that their will no longer be a need for sales people is like suggesting, because we can learn about almost anything we want on the online, there will no longer be a need for teachers and professors. That’s flawed thinking.

There is something about the transfer of knowledge that is exponential when done between people in person.  There is somethng about the ability to connect with a live person who is a subject matter expert that accelerates learning and improves understanding.

Beyond just improved transfer of knowledge, I think we are forgetting how complex selling environments work and the role sales people have in them. Large, complex sales or purchases, (looking from the customers side) requires more than one decision maker. Sales people do more than sell. They coordinate, they accelerate and they inform. Without a sales person or sales pursuit team, it would be exceedingly difficult for an organization to buy mission critical, complex, cross functional solutions. It would almost bring the process to a halt. I’d go so far as to say, the rate of change inside  organizations would be reduced by 100% or more. Without sales people organizational change would suffer substantially. Sales people, in many cases, are the trigger for change. How many times have you triggered a customer to evaluate a new solution they were unaware of, only to lose the deal to a competitor. You didn’t get the deal, but it was you who got them to move. A sales was made because change was initiated by a sales person.

Sales people aren’t going anywhere. I do think things are changing, especially for the less complex, more transactional sale. We are seeing a tremendous growth in inside sales organizations. I think we will continue to see that growth continue.

For large, enterprise wide, complex, cross-functional or mission critical applications and solutions, the sales person is beyond safe, they will be critical.

If you’re sales person selling simple, you’re in trouble. If you’re selling complex, you’re safe.

If you’re buying simple, you may not need a sales person. If you’re buying complex. If the solution has major ramifications to your organization and your business and you’re not using a sales person, you’re being foolish.